The Queen of the Nile ended her life in 30BC and it has always been held that it was the bite of an asp – now called the Egyptian cobra – which caused her demise. Now Christoph Schaefer, German historian and professor at the University of Trier, is presenting evidence that aims to prove drugs and not the reptile were the cause of death. Hope for blind after scientists turn skin into eye cells"Queen Cleopatra was famous for her beauty and was unlikely to have subjected herself to a long and disfiguring death," he said.
He journeyed with other experts to Alexandria, Egypt, where they consulted ancient medical texts and snake experts.
"Cleopatra wanted to remain beautiful in her death to maintain her myth," he says on the Adventure Science show screened by the German television channel ZDF.
"She probably took a cocktail of opium, hemlock and aconitum. Back then this was a well-known mixture that led to a painless death within just a few hours whereas the snake death could have taken days and been agonising."
Cleopatra reigned from 51BC to 30BC and was the last person to rule Egypt as an Egyptian pharaoh. After she died, Egypt became a Roman province. She was an ally of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, and established a relationship with the Roman General Mark Anthony. They had three children together and there are letters that suggest she married him, although both were already married; she to a brother and he had a wife in Rome. In 44 BC, after the assassination of Caesar, she aligned with Antony in opposition to Caesar’s legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian.
After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian’s forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, aged 39 on August 12, 30BC.
Text from The Daily Telegraph - posted 29th of June 2010
Image from Full Issue